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Interpreting the Evidence

Civil War Recruitment Broadside

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Era:

    Civil War and Reconstruction (1850 - 1877)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Comprehension

  • Grade Level:

    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School

  • Topics:

    Civil War

  • Primary Source Types:

    Broadside

  • Regions:

    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Civil War Recruitment Broadside, Lockport, c. 1863 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Topic: Civil War, War Propaganda, Enlist vs. Draft

Skills: Inferencing, Perspective-taking in writing, Identifying/interpreting propaganda

This document shows how broadsides use a variety of propaganda techniques to recruit (calling for volunteer but the pay is involved), broadsides use nationalism and patriotism to call for volunteers, a recruit could make $967.00 and returning veteran $1167.00 the first month –totals are not a monthly fee, deceiving how pay is portrayed, and how different rates for given for African American recruits.

 ​​​​Historical Context: During the Civil War, maintaining enough soldiers was a constant effort for both the Union and Confederate sides.  Although a draft was eventually put in place, broadsides posted in towns and cities encouraged American men to volunteer for military service in return for bounties.  Many of these broadsides, including this one from Lockport, NY, can be found in historical societies across the state, as well as the New York State Archives. 

Essential Question: How does this Civil War broadside encourage Americans to uphold their civic duties?

What is a Broadside? A broadside is a notice written or printed on one side of the paper.  Before mass communication systems, broadsides were a quick and efficient way to get the word out about an event, government notice, or advertisement.  People even posted opinion statements on broadsides.